A letter signed by more than 500 street vendors in Rangoon and directed to Burmese President Thein Sein voices a shared grievance over new regulations that further curtail their mobility.
Legislation was introduced on 9 August that includes a ban on vendors selling from pavements or in the street on main roads in six Rangoon wards. Each seller is now also required to carry an ID card and householder registration, known as Form 10.
Around 20 arrests were reportedly made this morning in Lanmadaw township, and equipment was confiscated. Vendors were told they would have to pay 50,000 kyat ($US62) to retrieve them.
The rulings and threat of further harrassment could cause significant problems, according to Ni Ni Than, who runs a stall in Latha township in Rangoon.
“We only sell from the sides of the pavement but now they are driving us out,” she said. She added that the Form 10 would also prove tricky. “Most of the vendors come from different parts of the town and they can’t afford to live in the six townships specified [in the announcement].
“Maybe they [the government] like those clean roads in Japan but Japan is number three in the world economy and where is Burma? I would like to suggest that the government takes up a scheme that is relevant to their local region.”
Roadside vendors in Rangoon sell everything from fruit to mobile phones, and are popular alternative to paying rental fees for shops. There are believed to be more than 200,000 street vendors operating in Burma’s commercial hub and former capital.
But they have long been subject to sporadic crackdowns by police, with the ramifications felt by the many poor Burmese who rely on cheap street food and goods.